If you're considering hiring an attorney to help you avoid foreclosure and/or get a loan modification, you may be wondering what specifically an attorney will do to help you keep your home. You know your mortgage issues are too important to try to handle alone, but how exactly does an attorney help?
Do they just show up in court and say something in Latin “Your honor, the corpus juris, et cetera, entitle my client to keep their house. Also, carpe diem, and liberum domum (free house), please.”
Of course not. So what does an attorney actually do when you hire them to defend you from foreclosure and assist you in getting a loan modification?
File A Notice of Appearance (NOA)
If you hire a foreclosure defense attorney, they will file a notice of appearance (NOA) with the court and your bank so that they can enter into your case and officially represent you. After it's filed, the bank will send information directly to your attorney without you having to act as an intermediary.
Answer Summons and Complaint
In judicial foreclosure states your lender must file a lawsuit to foreclose on your home. To do that you will be served a summons and complaint. When that happens, you become the defendant in the lawsuit and your bank is the plaintiff.
You have the right to respond, within a certain amount of time, by answering the summons and complaint and stating that you intend to fight the lawsuit and keep your home. If you have an attorney, they should answer it for you to begin defending you from foreclosure. An attorney may be able to point out mistakes with the complaint that you don't notice.
Appear At Settlement Conferences
States like New York have mandatory settlement conferences for owner occupied properties where the homeowner and the bank's representative meet with a court appointed referee to try to come to a resolution that doesn't end in foreclosure or an abandoned property. If you have an attorney, they will attend the conferences and advocate for you on your behalf.
Without representation, you would need to take off work and attend the conferences on your own. We've attended as many as nine settlement conferences for a client while a permanent resolution was being pursued. Homeowners would be seriously outmatched if they had to face the bank's attorney on their own.
Use Foreclosure Defense Strategies
While a permanent solution, such as a loan modification is being pursued, your attorney may use some foreclosure defense strategies to prevent foreclosure. They may argue that the plaintiff lacks the standing to foreclose because of a bogus mortgage assignment. They could also argue that the plaintiff isn't the real party in interest or that there's a failure of condition precedent or unfair lending practices.
There are many foreclosure defense strategies a knowledgeable attorney could bring depending on the circumstances of a case. They've been used to delay foreclosure for years.
Assist You In Getting a Loan Modification
If you're looking to save your home, you probably want a loan modification because it's the only permanent way to keep your home. It costs nothing to modify a loan and there are no closing costs like with a refinance. The one downside is that it's very hard to get approved for one on your own.
Most homeowners struggle to demonstrate to their bank that their income falls in the acceptable range required to be eligible for a loan modification. An attorney with extensive loan mod experience will know what the bank needs to see and how to show it to them, which can help you get the result you're looking for.
One of the most important things an attorney provides you with is their judgment. Based on their experience, an attorney can advise you on what course of action is likely to be the most successful and how to go about achieving it. Without the advice of professionals with the right experience, you could be wasting your time reinventing the wheel rather than taking the right steps to save your home.